Nov 26 2009

What every novelist should know about the publishing industry

Published by at 11:55 am under Getting Published,Research and Resources

This Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for Seth Godin’s advice for authors and Mark Hurst’s secrets of publishing.  These aren’t designed with comic book writers in mind, but a lot of the information is useful for them as well.  (If you’re interested in writing comic books, please read my comment below— I picked out a few details that I think are particularly useful for the comic book industry). 

(Also, outside of the realm of publishing, I’m also very grateful for Air Force Materiel Command in particular, because logistics is never as sexy as dropping the bombs but at least as important).

One response so far

One Response to “What every novelist should know about the publishing industry”

  1. B. Macon 26 Nov 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Publishers are businesses that cannot survive without making money. That’s as true for comic book publishers as novel publishers.

    If publishers think that your book will sell enough, you can get it published. (However, a publisher will probably pass on a project if it’s not similar enough to what they tend to publish– make sure that your book is a good fit in terms of tone, length and target audience to what the company has published in the past few years).

    “When you approach publishers with an idea, your main job– practically your only job– is to explain very clearly why the book is going to sell.” Amen. “If you’re not a known author or celebrity who can guarantee some sales, then it’s best to come in with a clearly defined, market-tested book idea…”


    “What’s more, publishers have limited resources for the (usually) enormous list of authors they sign, so publishers focus only on a very few A-list authors. The majority of their list gets very little support.” An unknown comic book writer, even after getting published, has to make his own sales. The publisher will not give you much more support than a link to buy the book on the homepage.

    “If you do find an interested publisher, they’ll hand you a contract. Read every word of the publisher’s contract, and get your lawyer to do the same. Many things in the contract are negotiable, though the publisher won’t tell you that upfront. But you’d be a sucker to sign the first draft of the contract.” In particular, a comic book writer needs to pay attention to whether he retains ownership of the story/characters. Some publishers (notably Image) are amenable to creator-owned comics. Make sure you know what you’re getting into.

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